Real-time strategy fans rejoice: Warcraft 3: Reforged, the long-awaited re-release of great game from 2002, got to the release. However, not everyone is happy (me included). That is why I want to present you other great RTS games to play before WC3 Reforged will get fixes.
This top list does not pretend to be objective, it is just my personal opinion. But, I think that every RTS games fan need to at least try these games. Let’s get it started!
7. Ground Control Game Series
In 2000, the Massive Entertainment Swedish studio released such an extraordinary RTS that some players chose to not notice. Ground Control – pure non-format, unusual and slightly scary to play. And the Swedes put a lot of really brilliant ideas in their project about the war between giant corporations of the distant future.
The entire economy in Ground Control was replaced by a call for reinforcements: the shuttle flew to the indicated point with those troops for which the player had enough special points. A three-dimensional map was used 100 percent with all its alien hills and hollows. At a high level of game difficulty, “friendly fire” was activated. The tanks and armored carriers had different strengths of armor on the bow, stern and sides. The game camera controls were so convenient to use and navigate, it’s hard to find any 3D stratagy game with similar camer even by this day. Plus an interesting story where scientists “called angels, but demons appeared.”
And the second game in the series with the subtitle Operation Exodus is stunningly beautiful even without adjustments for the year of development (2004).
6. Spellforce Game Series
RPG elements in the strategy game did not try to add only lazy developers. A persistent fashion for leveling of heroes in the RTS games was introduced, perhaps, by the same Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. But the perfect proportion in the combination of genres was maintained by German developers with the Spellforce franchise, which began with SpellForce: The Order of Dawn.
This is not about elements or individual mechanics, but about a full combination in a proportion of 50 to 50. Barracks, towers, walls, dense ranks of swordsmen and bizarre fantasy creatures – but next to it are heroes with thick branches of skills, a mountain of loot in the inventory and a scattering of optional quests on the map.
This formula was surprisingly viable and in demand – the Spellforce brand feels great in our difficult days of absence of new ideas in the RTS genre, although the first game was released in 2003. By the way, the more recent game in Spellforce series came out – Spellforce 3.
You buy game in Steam here.
5. Rise of Nations Series
Sid Meier’s turn-based Civilization met RTS dynamics in this classic Big Huge Games game. The meeting was a success – the game is still remembered, and its mechanics have not lost relevance. And the first part of Rise of Nations of 2003 was followed in 2004 by the powerful addon Thrones and Patriots and the three-dimensional fantasy variation Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends.
Under the player’s leadership, dozens of different nations followed the path of progress in many ways – the variability in Rise of Nations went wild. Accurate 2D-picture, a lot of scientific discoveries, really big cities and peppy fighting involving hundreds of units – the game had the same “tenacity” when the player stepped over an inconspicuous, low entry threshold and lost track of hours and days. A global map with dozens of countries and new, uncharted territories beckoned with terrible force all who launched the game.
Thrones and Patriots added a lot of interesting things: the Cold War of the USSR and the USA, for example. And Rise of Legends showed fabulous palaces and battles between genies and steam robots.
You can buy this game in Steam here.
4. Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War series
A game under a license is not necessarily a third-person action game, where we examine close-by models of favorite heroes. Games Workshop has entrusted the rights to its board game universe to Canadian developers at Relic (well known developers thanks to Homeworld and Company of Heroes). And they got one of the most stylish, fastest and brightest RTS in history.
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War was fast paced, especially in online battles. The unique, recognizable design of the units from the desktop games has been recreated in the smallest details. Various armies of the harsh universe are represented: from mechanical maniacs of necrons to star Tau communists. The music for the first part was written by the genius Jeremy Soul (The Elder Scrolls, Supreme Commander, War Thunder). As a result: an army of fans, good sales and critics awards.
The Dawn of War franchise was also being developed in the very right direction. The developers were not afraid of experiments, and in their vision of Warhammer 40,000 a global map appeared, as well as Diablo mechanics with the collection of hundreds of equipment items, and a deviation into tactics with small detachments.
You can buy it in Steam store here.
3. Command and Conquer and Red Alert Game Series
Westwood has done so much for the RTS genre that without it the golden age of the genre at the turn of the century might not have come. It was Westwood who developed the very Dune II: The Battle for Arrakis, which many played on Sega Mega Drive. Within its walls, the most popular Command and Conquer franchise was created.
Almost all the basic genre mechanics appeared and were perfected precisely in Command & Conquer. Building a base, extracting resources, rush, capturing enemy buildings, special active unit skills – in one form or another, techniques from C&C have been appearing in the genre for more than a dozen years. The epic story of the extraterrestrial mineral of Tiberius was remembered by many thousands (hundreds of thousands) of gamers thanks in large part to actor Joe Cook, who played the inimitable Kane in video cutscenes.
And Red Alert became the kitsch, hooligan offshoot of C&C. There Einstein changed history, the Red Army bombed Manhattan with airships, and the Japanese launched transformer robots at the enemies. It turned out a lot of fun and provocatively.
You can buy one of the games here.
2. StarCraft Series
Blizzard has created an exemplary science fiction world for StarCraft. Three races with their colorful appearance, technology, motives and heroes. Bullied Terrans, insatiable Zerg and wise Protoss are a classic bright trio of participants in the great conflict. The tragic story of Sarah Kerrigan. And a tightly occupied throne in eSports. Here are the main reasons for the popularity of StarCraft gaming series.
The number of its followers is difficult to indicate. The game had a serious impact not only on the genre, but also on the gaming industry as a whole. The second part in three acts consolidated the success and, in addition to 3D graphics, brought new good ideas – for example, fascinating “peaceful” gameplay based on between missions. Not so long ago Blizzard also made a great Remaster of the first game in the series complete with addon.
You can buy game here or with Battle.net launcher.
1. Age of Empires Series
The popularity of Age of Empires has been going on for the third decade. The first game about the ancient world was released in 1997. The fourth game is in development.
The secret of Age of Empires success lies in the ease of mastering numerous mechanics. Science, architecture, supplies, war and research expeditions – all this could be dealt with on the fly, during the game. And this process was incredibly exciting. None of the gameplay elements seemed alien-like – the game worked as an ideal entertainment mechanism. You do not need to be a genius to skillfully jump from building walls and towers to a detachment of militias who spotted the enemy.
It is worth recalling the successful spin-offs of Age of Mythology, where Ensemble studio skillfully worked in the usual genre with the mythology of various countries.
You can buy this masterpiece here on Steam.
There are several other great games like Total War series, but I will come back to them later. And for now, Lok’tar ogar!